Posts Tagged 'handmade'

Windows inspired by Derbyshire

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I have just finished three panels were commissioned for a house near Malborough, in Derbyshire and they will sit next to each other horizontally. The family love the rolling hills, dry stone walls, sheep and fields of vegetables in the local area. The left hand panel shows their own house, the middle a view of the local market square and the right hand panel incorporates sheep drawn from their own photographs. Other personal symbols are included, from flying geese to small rabbits to entertain their grand children.

The panels are for an internal wall between the kitchen and the dining room, the limited colour palette fits with the kitchen colour scheme and they will bring interest, light and colour into a restored country cottage. They are made using traditional leading techniques and I have painted the glass with traditional kiln fired glass paints.

 

Stained Glass Fish Window for a Bathroom

stained glass window shoal of fishThis large panel has just been installed to further obscure a large bathroom winstained glass painted fish detaildow; I make lots of windows for bathrooms and toilets and it is a great place to put a stained glass window as it adds privacy and interest to small rooms.  At just over a metre square its a striking feature which is visible through the bathroom into the upstairs landing. The window has been fixed in front of the existing textured double glazed panel and really livens up the space. All the fish are made with iridescent water glass and have been hand painted and kiln fired. The panel is leaded using traditional techniquesstained glass fish window shoal of fish, blue green yellow

Exeter Community Centre Multi-Sensory Window Commission

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A yRound the Mulberry Tree in situear and a half in the making (from initial idea to finished piece) with a lot of mistakes and disasters along the way; my multi sensory glass window is finally in its new home!  ‘Round the Mulberry Tree and Up the Chocolate Stairs’  is in the foyer and the Mulberry Tree Cafe in Exeter Community Centre on St David’s Hill, Exeter. Below is the full explanation of what on earth its all about. It’s a bit. wordy, but that really reflects how absorbing I have found the process and the social history that underpins the window.

The background

In 1838 The West of England School (WESA) opened its doors to offer ‘instruction and employment’ to blind children across the whole of the West of England. The school grew and by the 1930’s was offering boarding school accommodation, to children with visual disabilities from a wide area. Basket weaving, piano tuning and other vocational skills were being taught to ensure that children left school with employable skills. It’s hard to imagine what it must have felt like to be a small, visually impaired child, separated from your parents (who were as far away as Bristol) and expected to learn to adapt to a new city and an enormous school building. But adapt they did! Some pupils stayed at the school when they graduated and worked there until their retirements, others became piano tuners and basket weavers and far more besides.cast glass piano keys

I was funded by Arts and Health (MMU) and Exeter Arts Council to create a glass panel for the foyer/café of ECC specifically to engage local people over 60 in the Arts.  So in August 2013 I held a one day workshop in the ECC with the some of the alumni of the school and the other organisers and artists contributing to the larger picture . All participants had been pupils there (before the school moved to a new purpose built site in 1965).

The workshop was intended to be part oral memory capture, part engaging local older people in the arts and ultimately to create artwork which I could incorporate into a finished window for the Community Centre. Basket weaving was the obvious choice for our workshop activity, as it was taught widely in the school. The workshop participants still had a good memory for how to weave and we spent the day weaving recycled electrical wiring and remembering the past.

The workshop was a great success; as most of the participants were children in the 1930-50’s and they not only gave me all the material I needed for my panel, but took my back through the history of the area, the terror of the blitz, what all the buildings in the local area were used for and the joys and pains of being a visually impaired child in a boarding school. It was a touching day for all, especially the joy of realising the ancient mulberry tree was still in the garden and then eating the fruit and the disappointment that the chocolate stairs had been removed. The Chocolate Stairs were so named by the children at the school because they were inlaid with squares of wood which resembled the chunks of a chocolate bar.

The Panel

Originally I had intended to make a stained glass window, but it seemed wrong to make a 2d piece of visual art which visually impaired people could not enjoy fully and so I decided to mix photographic firing with textured, touchable glass work.

Three separate rectangular panes of glass are zinc framed and represent the austerity and formality of the building and the teaching that went on within it. Many of the voices were positive about their time in the school and this panel is a celebration of that. But several voices were not so happy and found the building a difficult place to be and were glad to leave.

From the café side of the panel there is no clear images; instead lights, shapes, suggestions of form and texture reflects the experience of visual impairment. Most visually impaired people have some sight, be it fuzzy shapes or shadows and this side of the window attempts to recreate this experience. From the foyer the textural elements of the panel come into play and you are welcome to touch it GENTLY!

The pancast glass mulberriesel really celebrates the exuberance of childhood, I have cast mulberries, mulberry leaves from the tree and the basket weaving created by the participants of the workshop. The colourful nature and multi-plane texture of the piece reflects the different memories and stories – all the fragments of memory coming and going and building on each other. At the bottom right of the top panel there are several balls of wool cast into the glass. These were saved by one of the pupils from their darning lessons and I am so glad I managed to cast them, especially as they had such a delicate texture.

Music in general was very important to the school, which produced excellent musicians and piano tuners, hence the musical notes and the piano keyboard I have cast for cast glass braillethe central section. The school sold many high quality items of basket weaving and the area where the foyer now is would have been part of the shop area, hence all the basket weave textures.

All of the photos have been reproduced with kind permission of WESA, from their archive and all depict the pupils and teachers at the school. The seated 19th Century gent is Robert Hawkins and the only photo I have a name for.

The panel has been made from many small pieces of cast glass which is a technically difficult and time consuming process and if I am honest at times I thought I may never get all the elements to work!  Firstly, I create a mould, using clay and plaster and once I am happy with the mould I fill it with glass and heat in the kiln until it melts to form the shape of the mould. Once cool these are ‘cold worked’ to remove all sharp edges and I have then attached these to a traditional window backing. The finished effect has the formality of the flat window on one side and  the jutting and contours of the textured glass on the other.

Many thanks to everyone who helped with the workshop and participated, especially Stuart Crewes who was a great help through the whole process, my first ever funding application too!

From dawn till dusk

sunset cowparsley stained glass panel

sunrise stained glass seed headmidday teasels photographic print

The school Easter holidays are in full swing; but I being a self employed artist and a mum means my days are full of sandy children for the next couple of weeks and working life needs to be pushed to the margins. Early mornings and after kids bedtimes have become my hours of work, this is how I worked through their preschool years and I am glad I learned to juggle all of these competing demands right from the children being babies, as I can slip into it quite easily now. But it does slow me down! and I am glad to have this triptych of panels packaged up to go to their new home in Cambridgeshire, as their new owner has been most patient!

The brief for the commission was to create three 30 cm square panels, each reflecting a different part of the day from sunrise to sunset. The client provided some of her photos for me to include and wanted a version of my ever popular teasels photo in the mix too.  The three panels are to run vertically down an internal wall  in a newly remodelled kitchen and the colours go from subtle yellows and light blues at sunrise to purples and pinks for a dramatic sunset.

The panels are made by firing photographic images onto the glass in my kiln and then leading them up in the same way as any other traditional leaded stained glass panel. The photographic images are permanently attached to the glass so the panels are as durable as normal stained glass.

Anyway, off to the post office and beach, in that order to get these panels off to their new home! Enjoy the sunshine on this sunny Monday morning.

 

 

 

The Hare and The Moon

The Hare and The Moon

Leaded round panel with a hare and moon painted in kiln fired glass paints and lustre. Inspired by the Indian folk tale of the same name

Red Bamboo and Dragon flies

Bamboo and Dragon fly, bespoke stained glass window

Bamboo and Dragon fly, bespoke stained glass window

This panel was installed last week, it fills a window between the kitchen and dining room in a 1930’s house in Exeter. The opening between the front and back of the house allows more light into the kitchen area as well as a wonderful focal point for both rooms.

Every commission comes with a brief and I managed to create a design that had bright colours and bamboo and water with dragonflies.

There is a pleasing sense of movement in the bamboo due to using Spectrum Water Glass and I have painted the shading and detail onto the bamboo stems.

I have used a mixture of antique mouth blown glass and modern Spectrum Glass. I have used traditional glass paints and luster which Dragon Fly and Bamboo Detailhave been fired in the kiln. This is a big panel and to give it extra strength I have used some internal reinforcing and a rigid metal frame.

To find out what the differences between different types of glass are click here 

See how mouth blown stained glass is made at Lambert’s UK glass factory by clicking here

From Dull Downstairs Toilet to Enchanted Forest

arch window with red tree - Copy

I have just fitted this panel into a large downstairs toilet window, replacing the ugly textured glass that had been there since the 1970’s.  The house is a listed lodge in Higher Cemetery near my home in Exeter and was once the grounds keepers cottage; now it’s a family home. It was built in the Gothic revival style so popular at the time by architect Edward Ashworth and is great, quirky old building.

The panel needed to obscure the person sitting in the loo, have natural details and a large central tree; the clients love green and the panel has a large green border of streaky green glass which gives the small room a green hue, like you are in a forest. I have lino cut printed ivy leaves onto the bottom corners of the panel and the central landscape is packed with painted detail of grasses, leaves, animals and birds. It was quite a challenging window as it is a very big window in an extremely small room, so you see it from very close up, which is quite unusual for such a large, grand opening!


I am a stained glass artist working in Exeter and a busy mum of 2; trying to carve a path through the tide of washing and children's toys that stands between me and making beautiful things.

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